The shift to remote learning and online classrooms has proven challenging and overwhelming for students and teachers. The pressure is enormous, and while students struggle to grasp concepts, teachers are grappling to ensure student participation and classroom interactions. We all direly miss the good old days of classroom fun and activities that allowed everyone to engage in the learning experience.
However, we can’t spend our time reminiscing the olden days because the remote learning trend is here to stay. So, why not explore strategies to make online classrooms fun and interactive? Keep reading to explore some helpful tips if you’re on board with interactive learning experiences.
1. Creating a Sense of Community & Belonging
Our surroundings and environments play powerful roles in defining and enriching our experiences, especially in the case of learning. Students harbor ties with their classrooms, etching their desks with scribbles and doodles to personalize their environment. Peer interactions and fun banter transform the classroom into a safe space where learners can grow and improve. The shift to online classrooms has denied students the safety, familiarity, and peer engagement of brick-and-mortar spaces.
But teachers can help students overcome this hurdle by fostering a sense of belonging and community within an online classroom. Encourage students to collaborate and engage in heated discussions, and dismantle cliques and in-groups. Interactions aren’t possible if your classroom consists of different cliques, groups, and gangs. You can foster community in an online classroom by letting students share their opinions and discuss concepts over Zoom.
After delivering the lecture or completing a chapter, allow students to take over the discussion. Let them answer each other’s questions and share their opinions about the lesson to encourage a broader discussion. Meanwhile, you can listen intently and take notes to commend students for their views, compelling them to share more openly.
2. Flipping the Classroom
Flipping the classroom calls for an innovative and collaborative learning approach to reverse traditional teaching methodologies. The idea is to deliver the instructional material, lectures, textbook knowledge, and homework, giving students time to reflect and research. Then you flip the classroom by drawing them into heated debates with their classmates.
Students always get excited about engaging in debates and arguing in favor of their opinions and views. Flipping the classroom with a debating activity is an excellent trick to foster collaboration and boost student engagement. This strategy will encourage students to research and equip themselves with valuable talking points, improving learning outcomes.
You can explore numerous strategies to create a debate-driven flipped environment. For instance, you can divide students into groups and provide them with online activities and recorded lectures. Then, allocate each group a concept or problem, asking them to instruct the class in your place. This approach will allow you to identify the areas where your students are struggling, alongside encouraging peer interactions.
3. Go Digital with the Think-Pair-Share Approach
Think-pair-share (TPS) is a dynamic, collaborative learning approach that encourages students to combine their cognitive skills to solve problems and research. This strategy is excellent for interactive projects, presentations, group activities, and daily home assignments. You can encourage your students to use virtual tools like Google Meet or Zoom to interact with their peers on group projects.
Project-based learning experiences are enriching and allow students to learn from their peers and enjoy a sense of community. Collaborative learning allows students to take charge of their learning experiences and outcomes by giving them the freedom to experiment. You can place students in various breakout rooms to discuss their projects, research and record their answers in teams.
Creating opportunities for students to collaborate and discuss their opinions is the crux of interactive online learning.
4. Communicate Actively
It’s not easy to achieve desired learning outcomes without personal connections, in-person sessions, and one-on-one discussions. Teachers striving to enhance student engagement and encourage interaction must embrace various communication tools. For instance, WhatsApp groups allow teachers to foster a community spirit by sharing updates and announcements with the entire class.
Most schools are designing their private social networks or communication apps to boost student interactions with virtual events and direct engagement. Suppose your institution doesn’t provide such IT support to streamline communication. In that case, you can explore other mediums, such as Facebook, Skype, and Google Meet.
5. Make Online Learning Fun
It’s natural for teachers to maintain strictness and formality to ensure classroom decorum during online sessions. Maintaining decorum is particularly challenging with elementary and secondary students, but don’t let your efforts make online learning boring.
Students yearn for the interactive banter, random jokes, and silly remarks from their peers. Why not allow them freedom of expression and an occasional joke between the lectures and coursework? Allowing students to communicate is crucial to making online sessions fun and interactive.
Teachers should find new activities and creative ideas to encourage project-based learning and divide students into various groups. Keep shuffling the group arrangements to avoid provoking the creation of cliques within your classroom. Also, encourage students to collaborate with classmates they don’t usually interact with to foster a community spirit.
Opening the space for debates, presentations, role-playing activities, and collaborations will enrich the online learning experience with incredible interactions. It will also help lessen the pressure on you as the instructor by shifting the learning responsibilities onto the learner.